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Ekurhuleni and Red Cross cement relationship through signing of MOU

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“Attending to a disaster is not only the responsibility of one party; it is a collective effort between government and non-government entities.”

Those were the words of Moshema Mosia, Head of Department for the Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services, during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the South African Red Cross (SARCS) Society on 17 September.


He further stated that such an agreement is an important milestone in the relationship between the City of Ekurhuleni and the Red Cross because “it commits both entities to working together to maximise efficiency in cases of disaster and emergency”.

Derick Naidoo, chief executive officer (CEO) of SARCS, also highlighted that though the organisation has worked closely with the municipality in the past, the day was aimed at officiating their relationship.

“Our mission is to render services to prevent and alleviate human suffering, and to foster human dignity in all communities. To that end we have seen work being done on the ground here in Ekurhuleni and today is all about declaring that we and the municipality will continue working closely together,” said Naidoo.

The South African Red Cross Society is a member organisation of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which is the largest volunteer driven organisation on earth. The Red Cross Society has 100 million members and a presence in 189 countries.

In August 2007 the South African government recognised the South African Red Cross Society as an official auxiliary to the government in humanitarian aid.


Record-breaking fun at SAESI2015

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altAhead of Africa’s biggest emergency services event, we take a look the world record industry members will attempt to make at SAESI 2015

The first of November will see members of the South African emergency services come together at the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) 2015 Conference, Exhibition and Training event to create a world record.

South Africa’s emergency services fraternity will make history when teams of ten compete at pulling a fully-loaded fire truck at a gradient. This event will take place on 1 November at the Klipriviersberg Recreation Centre, approximately 14kms from Nasrec, the conference venue.

Don’t miss out on this incredible chance to go down in history!

Go to today to register your team for the world record attempt. Don’t forget to fill in the indemnity form – safety first!

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 September 2015 14:25

Running for fun at SAESI2015

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altIn anticipation of the SAESI 2015 conference, we take a look at the fun, family-friendly events you can participate in during the fire industry’s biggest annual event.

The Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) is hosting its 30th conference from 4-6 November 2015. And, not only will the conference include an exhibition and training events, but there will also be a fun run for the whole family to enjoy.

The fun run will allow delegates and their families to take part in an event which help to build a sense of community and allow industry members to interact with each other in an informal setting.

The fun run will take place at the Klipriviersberg Recreation Centre (approximately 14km from NASREC in Johannesburg) at 17h00 on 1 November. This 5/8km event is only open to paid-up SAESI members, but participants are encouraged to bring their families along.

Go to today for information on how you and your family can be a part of this fun day in the sun!


Building resilient communities at SAESI 2015

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By: Kelly-Ann Prinsloo – writer

What is a vulnerable community and how does SAESI 2015 aim to make these communities more resilient?

Melvin Ramlall, vice-president of the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) said, “Psychological resilience may be defined as an individual's ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity.” In South Africa, especially among our more vulnerable communities, being able to adapt to stress and adversity is not only important – it is a necessity. So, what is a resilient community? And how can you, as members of the emergency services management (EMS) industry, help the communities around you become more resilient?

In its broadest sense, social vulnerability is one dimension of vulnerability to multiple stressors and shocks, including abuse, social exclusion and natural hazards. Social vulnerability refers to the inability of people, organisations, and societies to withstand adverse impacts from multiple stressors to which they are exposed. These impacts are due in part to characteristics inherent in social interactions, institutions, and systems of cultural values.


Moshema Mosia, head of disaster and emergency management services for Ekurhuleni, whose talk will focus on international standardisation in security and resilience, said, “Developing countries are most vulnerable to major incidents and disasters. Participation of men and women from across the globe is required in undertaking this work.”

South Africa, a developing country that is home to almost 60 million people, is full of people who live in vulnerable communities who, whether due to circumstances or lack of education or resources, are unable to overcome the risks and hazards they face on a daily basis. As members of the emergency services, it is your duty to help those people learn to help themselves.

That is what attending SAESI 2015 offers you: a chance to learn to effectively help those who are unable to help themselves.

What is a vulnerable community?
Ramlall said, “A vulnerable community in the context of emergency services are those groups of people situated within locations and areas prone to or identified as danger zones if and when major incidents or disasters occur.” This means areas that are susceptible to flooding, or fires, or where crime levels are unacceptably high.

There are many factors which determine a person’s level of vulnerability, including physical, economic, social and political factors. These factors also determine the extent of their capacity to resist, cope with and recover from hazards. Poverty is a major contributor to vulnerability, especially in South Africa where almost half our population lives below the breadline. Poor people are more likely to live and work in areas exposed to potential hazards, while they are less likely to have the resources to cope when a disaster strikes.

According to Ofentse Masibi, former SAESI president and divisional head of disaster and emergency management services at the City of Ekurhuleni, a vulnerable community is an opposite of the resilient community. “It is a community that has an intrinsic weakness to recover from any hazardous incident (e.g. fire) on its own.”

Riaan Janse van Vuuren, – Director, treasurer and chairperson of the SAESI Administration working group and assistant chief of municipal emergency services for Sol Plaatje Municipality, added that a resilient community will not only know what the hazards and risks are that directly impact them, they will also know ‘how to’ recover from the impact of such risks with the resources that are available to them. “There is no value in giving a fish to someone without teaching him how to fish for himself.”

A vulnerable community therefore is one that does not understand the risks and hazards are faces nor does it have the capacity to overcome them.

So, how does aim to take these vulnerable communities, be they informal settlements, hospitals, schools or prisons, and make them resilient?

SAESI 2015 makes vulnerable communities resilient
When asked how the SAESI 2015 conference will help South Africa’s emergency services industry understand vulnerable communities and how to make them resilient, Ramlall had much to say.

“I think the question should read: ‘How will the SAESI 2015 conference help to identify the communities’ vulnerabilities and how to make them resilient?’ I say this because emergency services in the country ordinarily are responsive in their function and deal with what they find on arrival. They generally know response areas and what to expect when they get there.”


But the concept of ‘building resilient communities’ suggests pro-active measures. The measures, Ramlall added, might not be within the full mandate of the emergency services, but more on the persons having fiduciary obligations and jurisdiction within the local, provincial and national context.

“The selection of the speakers identified by SAESI will provide examples of adversity that affected communities elsewhere; information will be shared on the challenges and solutions which emanated during and after these events, which will allow us here at home to better understand and prepare going forward.”

Those speakers include:

  • Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, whose keynote address will focus on the multiple facets of disaster response;
  • Stuart Ellis, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC), whose keynote address will synthesise Australian learnings across resilience, incident management and relief/recovery;
  • Paul Motsepe, from the West Rand District Municipality, whose address will focus on public information, education and relations (PIER), its principles and values. PIER recognises the importance of people’s ability to act together to influence the social and environmental issues that affect them;
  • Schalk Willem Lubbe, chief operations officer of Collabrisk, whose talk will focus on the empowerment of vulnerable communities by identifying the hazards that affect them in their communities and understanding how to assist them in identifying and minimising or eliminating those risks; and
  • Moshema Mosia, who is the City of Ekurhuleni’s head of Disaster and Emergency Management Services. His address will focus on international standardisation in security and resilience.

Janse van Vuuren added that building a resilient community means given that community the resources it needs to withstand any disaster. “This is done by education, training, risk identification by taking historical knowledge into account, resourcing, continued evaluation and having the community involved,” he said. “Think of it this way: you do not allow an insurance broker to decide for you what you need to insure and what not to insure! In the same way we cannot built resilience into a community without having the community involved throughout the entire process.”

Masibi added that building a resilient community means that one is building a community that will be able to recover on its own without the external assistance. A practical example of building the resilient is the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) initiative and similar interventions that are focused on South Africa’s informal settlements, which work to increase the robustness of those community.

When asked how the SAESI 2015 conference will help the emergency services industry understand vulnerable communities and how to make them resilient, Janse van Vuuren said, “Many emergency services still focus on only one of the elements. They either focus all their attention on training without taking the historical data, hazards and risks into account, or they focus so heavily on risk assessments that they never get to the actual implementation of risk reduction programs and -projects.

The 2015 SAESI Conference is structured in such a way that the three identified pillars (education, risk management and societal security) will be discussed in depth and lay a solid foundation that the emergency services can build upon.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 September 2015 12:08

Achieving a milestone

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By: Dino Padayachee – president of the Southern African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI)

We are pleased to report that all the work done by SAESI executive committee (EXCO) and members in constructing our draft Memorandum of Incorporation (MOI) has culminated in the approval of our MOI by members of council at our annual general meeting (AGM) held in Kimberly on 25-2 June 2015. We thank each and every member for assisting our Institution in achieving this milestone.


We would like to pay tribute all our ladies in the emergency services. We thank all ladies for the courage, strength and leadership that you display. Your bravery and charisma is most admirable in a work environment that is seldom if ever forgiving. We wish you well for Women’s month and every day thereafter.

The 2015 SAESI Conference, Exhibition and Training event is only two months away and promises to be an exciting and memorable event. The event kicks off on 1 November 2015 with a fun run for open to all emergency services personnel. On this day we would like to create a world record for pulling a fully-loaded fire engine by the most emergency services personnel. We would like you to be part of this world record. We will also be graced by the presences of international guests.

The programme has been well balanced for you to participate in all the activities at the conference. We urge you to start registering now for the conference in order to avoid disappointment.

Yours sincerely,

Dino Padayachee
SAESI President


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